Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Microsoft to Newspaper Publishers: Seriously. We’re Not Bailing You Out.

msoftlogoJust in case newspaper publishers are still fantasizing about cashing big Bill Gates checks in exchange for bailing on Google, Microsoft wants to be clear: Don’t count on us.

Yes, there could be some kind of deal between Microsoft (MSFT) and some publishers. And yes, that might involve some kind of payment. But the company is signaling, loud and clear, that it’s not going to pay the huge sums necessary to fund a real Google (GOOG) boycott.

That’s what All Things Digital reported last week. And that’s what the Associated Press echoed in a subsequent story this week. And that’s what Microsoft said today, more or less. Except this time it was on the record.

Here’s Satya Nadella, who heads up R&D for Microsoft’s Online Services Division–i.e., Bing–at a San Francisco press conference, per Kara Swisher’s account:

Then comes a question about premium, or “non-Google,” content. Nadella avoids the question, and instead focuses on “scaffolding” the data.

“We’re not as focused on getting exclusive content,” he says flatly. Uh-oh, publishers! As I reported, Microsoft is not forking over the dough.

…Nadella gets another question about paying to de-index Google.

“There is no real intent here that is focused on getting a whole bunch of content that is de-indexed from Google,” he said.

Nadella went on to say that Microsoft is happy to feature different kinds of content, as a way of differentiating itself from Google. Like the work it already does with the Mayo Clinic on health searches: Plug in “swine flu” and you’ll see information from the clinic prominently featured, via a licensing deal.

But that’s a far cry from handing over a sack of cash in exchange for abandoning Google altogether.

Obligatory “to be sure” graf: Say Microsoft was interested in handing over sacks of cash to publishers like News Corp. (NWS), which owns The Wall Street Journal (as well as this site). You wouldn’t hear Redmond bellowing that out loud, anyway.

That’s certainly what the News Corp. folks hope. Or alternately, they’re hoping that all this talk of a Microsoft-publisher alliance spooks Google. But, as the tough guys like to say, hope is not a plan.

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